New Material of the Platychelyid Turtle Notoemyszapatocaensis from the Early Cretaceous of Colombia; Implications for Understanding Pleurodira Evolution

  • Edwin A. CadenaEmail author
  • Carlos A. Jaramillo
  • Jonathan I. Bloch
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


Notoemys zapatocaensis is the youngest representative of the Platychelyidae, a group of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous pleurodires. Here we describe two new specimens of this species represented by a partial carapace and a nearly complete articulated shell. Notoemys zapatocaensis is different from other platychelyid turtles in having: (1) two fairly reduced lateral tuberosities on the margin of the anterior plastral lobe, (2) a shallow notch on the posterolateral margin of the epiplastra, giving a convex posterolateral edge to this bone, (3) gular scales that are rectangular in shape and much wider than long, (4) a long intergular scale that has a slight medial contact with the pectorals, resulting in a complete separation of the humeral scales, (5) a central plastral fontanelle that projects posteriorly into the xiphiplastral region, (6) a very small marginal 3, (7) a slightly shorter neural 1 than neural 2, with an exclusive lateral contact with costal 1, resulting in a complete separation of neural 2 and costal 1, (8) narrower vertebral scales, and (9) peripheral 3 lacking a posteromedial contact with costal 2. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that N. zapatocaensis is a sister taxon of N. oxfordiensis, and that Proterochersis robusta can be resolved in two different positions in the testudines tree: (1) with Odontochelys semitestacea based on the fact that both taxa share two mesoplastra meeting at midline, or (2) as the most basal pleurodire, based on a suture articulation of pelvis to shell. Anal notch shape and potentially fontanelle size are indicators of sexual dimorphism in platychelyids.


Rosablanca Formation  South America  Valanginian Zapatoca 



Fieldwork and this paper were supported by the Smithsonian Paleobiology Endowment Fund, and the Florida Museum of Natural History Miss Lucy Dickinson Fellowship. Specials thanks go to V. Lamus for his help during the fieldwork. Thanks to T. Gaona and J. Arenas (Muséo Geológico José Royo y Gómez, Bogotá, Colombia) and Lapparent de Broin (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, France) for access to collections, and to M. Iturralde from the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, La Habana, Cuba, for the excellent pictures of the holotype of Notoemys oxfordiensis. Thanks to D. Brinkman and C. Marion for editing this manuscript, to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology, Panama), to the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab of the Florida Museum of Natural History for access to the preparation of the fossil, and to W. Joyce for access to the character-taxon matrix used in the phylogenetic analysis. Thanks to R. Rueda and M. Gonzalez for their continued support and inspiration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin A. Cadena
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Carlos A. Jaramillo
    • 1
  • Jonathan I. Bloch
    • 2
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAnconPanama
  2. 2.Division of Vertebrate Paleontology, Florida Museum of Natural History, Dickinson HallUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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